Integrating Ecology and Poverty Reduction

pp 79-99


Alliances, Conflicts, and Mediations: The Role of Population Mobility in the Integration of Ecology into Poverty Reduction

  • Susana B. AdamoAffiliated withCenter for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute at Columbia University Email author 
  • , Sara R. CurranAffiliated withCenter for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington

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The poverty–environment–migration triad sustains a complex relationship characterized by contradictory and ambiguous effects and multiple feedbacks (Locke et al. 2000; Adger et al. 2002). Population mobility1 may both directly or indirectly contribute to poverty reduction (e.g., through remittances, diversification of livelihoods, improved living conditions, access to social and other services, and expansion of networks), or to the exacerbation of poverty (e.g., accelerate aging in sending communities, brain drain, community weakening, impoverishment of displaced populations, or raising unemployment in receiving communities). Similarly, migration may have environmental impacts (frontier settlements change land use patterns; growing population density in sensitive and/or hazardous areas exacerbates ecological deterioration; depopulation facilitates forest re-growth; remittances may accelerate adoption of green technologies) and in turn migration can be a demographic response to environmental change and deterioration, as in the case of environmentally induced displacement. Finally, migration may be a mediating factor between poverty reduction and ecosystem health – either facilitating a positive feedback (e.g., remittances may lessen the income demands for resource extraction in origin communities) or exacerbating a negative feedback relationship (e.g., remittances may provide the technological investments to accelerate resource extraction).